The FSA has fined two former stockbrokers working for Pacific Continental a total of £100,000 for using insider information about an AIM-traded company, Provexis, to encourage clients to buys its shares.
William Coppin and Perry Bliss, who both worked for Pacific Continental Securities UK, have also been banned from working in financial services.
Claims against Pacific Continental led to IFAs being hit with large FSCS levies in 2008/2009 and 2009/2010. In 2009, the FSCS predicted the total cost of paying out claims related to the firm would be between £40m and £70m.
Coppin received a £70,000 fine, whereas Bliss received a fine of £30,000. Bliss’ fine was reduced from £60,000 because the level of the fine would have caused him financial hardship.
On March 27, 2007, Coppin and Bliss received an email from a colleague with the subject “Provexis”.
The text read: “Gentlemen, This script does not exist.” And a sales script for Provexis shares was attached.
The email contained inside information stating Provexis had signed an agreement with an unnamed major food company, the announcement of the deal was imminent and its share price could rise by as much as 100 per cent.
Coppin and Bliss then spent the next two days calling clients with news that a deal was about to be announced and the company’s share price would rise dramatically.
Provexis announced the contract on March 30, 2007, and its share price rose 19.8 per cent.
The FSA found that the actions of Coppin and Bliss were deliberate and had been motivated by their desire to get a bonus.
FSA managing director of enforcement and financial crime Margaret Cole (pictured) says: “By using inside information to encourage their clients to buy shares, Coppin and Bliss abused their privileged positions and gave their clients an unfair advantage over other investors. It is important that there is a level playing field for all investors and we will not hesitate to take action to ensure that the UK markets operate in a fair, efficient and orderly way for all.”